Small and careful steps are characteristics of using a critical approach to thinking. Critical thinking is despite the word not a critical or negative type of explanation to the thinking. It is easy to be lured into thinking that goal is to criticise and idea or suggestion. Critical approach to thinking does not mean questioning things randomly or “nit picking”.
The aim is to get as near as possible to the truth by answering questions systematically and explaining the thinking in steps, where each step makes sense.
A critical explanation to the thinking means to walk down the stairs in a careful way without making any mistakes on the way. A child has to judge each crittery step to see and test if it makes sense. Talking aloud while exploring the different options is a great way to become aware of ideas.
Several skills are involved in critical thinking, which in many ways is the opposite to the long jumps that are a characteristic of lateral thinking. Children’s thinking may naturally jump, that is a child may jump in the way she explains ideas and the way she regards things as making sense and being true.
Critical explanation to the thinking involves:
- Take the information into account.
- Understand the key points and evidence presented.
- Analyse and compare the key components.
- Draw conclusions.
A problem with the traditional approach to critical thinking has been that the thinking stops when you have find something that is the problem with the information. Children have been thought to list problems with certain ideas and been marked for the number of faults and weak points they can find. They are often asked to defend their point.
A more fruitful approach is to Think Dive again and to search for ways to improve the solution. Edward de Bono has stressed the importance of letting go of an approach that is characterised by using an argumentative approach to a discussion. For example, politicians argue for or against different proposals and ideas. But it is more fruitful to explore different options and ideas.
Today, our views upon knowledge and information have changed, and the character of critical thinking is changing. A more open approach is often regarded as preparing children in a better way for the challenges involved in living a world where there is an abundance of information. Now very few things are regarded as the truth instead new ideas and information is constantly added. In a way, we live in very uncertain times where truth is often obscured and controversy rages. Our world is changing faster than it ever has before. New information is constantly added and the problem might be information overload and not lack of information.
The only one thing we can have certainty of in our world it is that there will be changes and new information will be added. This means that an open approach to information and ideas is necessary. It is also vital to teach children to explore and build upon ideas and not simply criticising an idea. The Think Dive should not stop with the questioning of the information rather the thinking should explore subjects and open up the thinking.
Socrates taught critical thinking through questioning and a way to teach a child is to ask her to defend her opinions on a topic. A more fruitful approach may be to ask her to provide alternatives and to explore different options.
Think Dive to explore the following common ways of examining a problem or idea.
- Think Dive and explore what happened – Knowledge
- Think Dive and Tumble around and look for a reason for why it happened – Comprehension
- Think Dive with your head first and use Thinkibility Goggles. See what you would have done – Application
- Put on your Flippers and swim back and forth to find the parts you like best – Analysis
- Bomb Dive with your eyes closed. Open them and look for a different ending – Synthesis